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Guide to working abroad as an expatriate

The right credit card can make working abroad even easier.

As an expatriate working abroad, you can make money while seeing the world. However, working and living in a different country often takes a certain amount of preparation for a smooth experience.

Here are a few things to know about how to work abroad.

How to get a job abroad

Whether you’re looking to study abroad, relocate for a full-time position, or seek a fresh start at a new place of employment, finding work overseas can be overwhelming. There are a variety of ways you can find jobs overseas.

Here are some of the best routes to take if you want to work overseas.

Enter the workforce as a student

Most four-year schools have exchange programs set up with foreign universities, allowing you to spend a semester or more abroad. These programs allow students to experience the education systems of various countries around the world — an appealing trait to potential employers once you graduate. During your time overseas, you can network and make the connections you’ll need to start working abroad.

If you’re not currently enrolled in school, consider applying to universities overseas. This can be a bit trickier than exchange programs but allows for more freedom and flexibility.

Full-time employee

If you’re looking to pursue a career in a new destination, there are a few ways you can go about it:

  • Relocate. If you work for an international organization, you might consider speaking with your employer regarding a transfer to a foreign office.
  • Secure a job before you go. You can start looking through job websites to find a relevant position to apply for prior to ever leaving the United States. Check out our list of expat job resources below. Teaching English abroad is a fulfilling way to experience the world and a job that is often in high demand overseas.
  • Apply for jobs when you arrive. If you’re more of a last-minute person or have the budget to support yourself once you arrive, you may want to apply in person or through local job websites once you get there. For some jobs, this might improve your chances of getting hired.
  • Start your own business. If you’re a self-starter or entrepreneur, you may want to consider starting your own business either before or after you leave. Consider the potential benefits, drawbacks and entrepreneurial landscape of each destination before you make a final decision.

Apply for a government job

Government jobs are a great, stable way to travel the world and explore new places while you work. Whether you decide to seek out a position with your domestic government or hope to find your place in a foreign government, there are a variety of jobs all over the world.

Many government jobs are available through the military, navy, diplomatic corps or even as a private contractor. There are even programs created to benefit expats, such as the Overseas Housing Allowance.

Apply through an agency

Signing up for a job placement agency can take a bulk of the legwork out of looking for the job itself, letting you focus on preparing for your move. Many agencies will even help you gather the required documents needed for the move.

How can a credit card help when working abroad?

Picking up the right credit card can give you peace of mind when you start your foray overseas. With the right card, you can earn rewards or cash back to help stretch out your wallet while you get your legs underneath you. Some card features to consider abroad include:

  • Rewards on everyday spending.
  • Rewards or miles on travel.
  • Cards with no ATM fees.
  • Cards with no foreign transaction fees.

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Welcome offer Rewards Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on up to $1,000 on groceries until April 30, 2021, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
Earn a signup bonus worth $1,000 plus up to $50 statement credit towards groceries with this popular travel card.
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on all other purchases

Rose Gold is back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
75,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other purchases
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500 based on Finder's valuation, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Tax implications

America is one of the few countries that vigorously pursues taxes worldwide — so don’t expect to avoid a US tax debt by moving abroad. You should file a return with the US every year, regardless of whether you earned income or not. You are not legally required to do so if you don’t owe US taxes, but it’s an important preventive measure.

For more relevant information, the IRS provides a tax guide for citizens living abroad.

How to budget for living abroad

It’s important to work out a budget to determine how you’re going to afford your new lifestyle. Look around at rentals or real estate listings in the area to get an idea of your monthly expenses. Additionally, you should consider the cost of groceries, healthcare, leisure activities, and any other expenses you currently spend on.

There are a few costs that are not necessarily mandatory, but we highly recommend them when budgeting for your new venture.

  • Expat insurance. An absolute essential for all expats, this should be one of your top considerations when moving overseas. Most countries do not offer expatriates free healthcare — even in emergencies — making it even more important.
  • Health insurance. The majority of expats have private health insurance, but in the event that it’s not offered as part of your expat contract, there are many companies available that specialize in this type of insurance.
  • Travel costs. If you plan on seeing your family or friends during your time away from home, make sure to budget for travel costs. Whether they’re coming to check out your new stomping grounds or you’re making the trip home, flights aren’t free and neither are accommodations.

Bottom line

It might sound intimidating to find a job abroad, but a little planning can ensure your transition is as smooth and painless as possible. Make sure to organize your money beforehand to minimize any financial emergencies once you’ve touched down on new land. Compare travel credit cards to find one that can help you during your new adventure.

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